This paper highlights the environmental impacts of implementing beneficial management practices to address cattle bedding and direct access to the creek in a study watershed in southern Alberta, Canada. Approximately 35 cow–calf pairs grazed 194 ha of grass forage and had direct access to the creek in the spring and summer. During winter, the cattle were fed adjacent to the creek at an old bedding site. The practice changes included off-stream watering, bedding site relocation and fencing for rotational grazing. The cost was $15,225 and 60 h of labour. Four years of data were used in a before-and-after experimental design to evaluate the practice changes. After two years of post-implementation monitoring, riparian assessments showed an increase in plant diversity, but no change in the percent cover of the riparian species Salix exigua and Juncus balitus and a decrease in Carex sp. (P < 0.05). Water quality monitoring showed a decrease in the difference between upstream and downstream concentrations of total phosphorus, total dissolved phosphorus, total nitrogen, organic nitrogen and Escherichia coli (P < 0.10). These results showed that improved environmental changes in riparian and water quality can be measured following the implementation of beneficial management practices for cattle bedding and grazing.

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